Tonko and Paulsen had previously introduced Jason's Law in the U.S. House to address the truck parking shortage and improve conditions at current truck parking facilities. The new bill was announced Wednesday at a press conference in Washington, DC.
The law is named for truck driver Jason Rivenburg, who was murdered during an attempted robbery while parked at an abandoned gas station in South Carolina. Due to a lack of adequate truck parking, the gas station was the only place to stop and comply with the hours-of-service. His widow, Hope Rivenburg, was present at the announcement.
Jason's Law would provide $20 million annually for six years for a number of initiatives to improve access to truck parking across the country, ranging from construction of new parking capacity and improvements to existing commercial parking areas, to technology to track open parking spaces and improvements to existing noncommercial parking facilities to accommodate large trucks.
The American Trucking Associations and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association announced statements indicating their support of the bill.
"America's professional truck drivers need access to safe and legal parking in order to get the rest they need to safely transport the nation's essential goods and comply with federal hours-of-service rules," Mary Phillips, ATA senior vice president of legislative affairs said at the press conference. "Our drivers shouldn't be forced into the 'no-win' situation of choosing between continuing to drive to find safe parking or parking on the shoulder or ramp or other location that puts themselves or other motorists at risk."
"The fact that states have been considering closing existing parking facilities in order to address their budget shortfalls underscores the need for this legislation," Phillips said. "If left unaddressed, the lack of truck parking will reach a crisis stage; over the next 9 years, we will add nearly 2 million more trucks to our roads to meet our nation's freight demand."
"The trucking industry faces a litany of issues, and the least we can do is to make sure drivers have a safe place to rest while delivering the nation's goods," said Todd Spencer, executive vice President of OOIDA.